Marco Wittmann took a comprehensive victory in the first DTM race of 2019 at Hockenheim as a late charge from Rene Rast ended in mechanical failure for the Audi driver.
Pulling ahead at the start, Wittmann used his advantage of not being caught in a blanket of spray to keep a calm head in his BMW M4 as the rest of the field did its best to negotiate the tight right-handed turn one without incident – except for Rast accidentally nudging Timo Glock into a spin, which the latter easily recovered from.
With conditions best described as atrocious, the field struggled to make significant in-roads into each other with one exception. Rast, in his Audi RS5, was making tracks and made a great move on second-placed Mike Rockenfeller at the hairpin.
After that, the 2017 DTM champion had his sights set on overhauling Wittmann. The German gradually gained on his countryman and seemed to be setting up a move for the lead.
However, with just four laps of the 34-lap encounter remaining, Rast’s Audi ground to a halt on the side of the track in the stadium section with a suspected transmission problem.
Rast’s demise allowed Wittmann to make an untroubled mandatory pitstop and, with Rockenfeller having lost time on the damp/drying Hockenheim circuit, he took the chequered flag with 13.4s in hand over the former LMP1 driver.
Robin Frijns was a distant third. The Dutchman was the pacesetter in the closing laps, but ran out of time to take any more out of his 20.9s deficit to Rockenfeller.
After his early 360-degree spin, Glock took fourth for BMW with Loic Duval fifth.
It was a difficult debut for Aston Martin, with Daniel Juncadella the best of the Vantages in ninth and Jake Dennis in 11th. Both Paul Di Resta and Ferdinand Van Habsburg failed to finish with each having mechanical problems on the car’s DTM debut.